It sure is easy during the approach of the holidays to start to feel a bit fizzled and frazzled.
I have a tree that is supposed to stay lit even when some of the lights die – but for some reason this year, the top and the middle of my tree are completely unlit and I can’t find the bulbs that are causing the problem…
The directions on the tree say that if one bulb goes out, the others will stay lit…but either that is false, OR I have dozens of lights that just pooped out.
What makes the lights go out? A loose bulb, broken socket or frayed wire is sometimes all it takes for the strand to malfunction. Sometimes something impacts the bulb – which causes the light to go out. Sometimes an entire fuse blows when there is an overcurrent to the power source, which causes more than just one light to go out. Sometimes a light goes out because there are too many other lights that are burned out.
This started making me think about my own energy and staying fully lit during this time of year – which is advertised as a season of peace, joy, fun, and silent nights – but yet it also is often filled with stress of finishing up year end goals, meeting deadlines that may be unrealistic, dealing with staff that waited until the very last minute to take an entire load of vacation days off, not enough time to go to the bathroom let alone wrap gifts, the stress of final doctor visits before new deductibles kick in, paying off bills and making sure that all of the receipts are turned in for flex, and wow – the list can go on and on.
Staying lit takes a lot of energy.
I don’t want to get to the end of the year and look back and just say “I was busy”. Crazy busy. I want to reflect and with confidence say I was productive, added value, had quality in my life, joy, and gave. I want my light to matter.
What about you? Are your lights dimming? Close to being blown? Are there other lights on the same strand that are already blown out? Keep reading, perhaps these tips will help you as much as they have helped me.
Busy or productive?
There is way more to life than just being busy. Slowly my light has been dimming. I found myself in a trap in 2018 of letting others hold my calendar hostage, spending inordinate amount of times in meetings with no time left to take action, and delivering above and beyond superior projects and programs, while feeling like others think it still wasn’t good enough – or enough.
Each light on the tree has a lifespan – it’s job is to shine brightly until it is dimmed and cannot light any more.
As I prepare for a much needed break – it is my hope to focus on doing things I love, with people I love. This focus makes my light shine brighter.
The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives, and everything to do with the focus of our lives. – Russel M. Nelson
If you finding yourself sweating the small stuff, what is helping me is to just stop and breathe. Breathe in deeply and as Elsa so famously sings – “let it go.”
There is only so much you can do – and then there is no more you can do. A bucket can only hold so much before it spills over…
Sometimes I read blogs or articles and think “WOW that author must have it all together.” We all are like the lights on the tree. We have a purpose, and a lifespan. My tips are not because I have it all together. These tips are for me because I do NOT have it all together most days – but try to find ways to shine a bit brighter. What if maybe other authors also at some point felt like they were getting dim and had to find a way to rise above?
I am being honest here. I got caught up in the stress I am feeling at work – and had to pause. I could choose to allow it to wear me down and burn me out – or I could find a way to rise above and look at the circumstances as opportunities. I needed these tips for myself. If they help you too, that is even better!
Invest time in things that bring you and others joy
As I started thinking about my own “problems” – I was stopped in my tracks and something inside of me urged me to leave the Pity Party of One and express gratitude and slow down my thoughts. My light needs to shine bright. I have more to shine on, more to do. This life is bigger than myself. I am not ready to burn out yet.
Last month – my daughter gifted 500 kids in Kenya a pair of shoes – their own pair of shoes. Perhaps a pair they will only have for many years to come. She didn’t gift these to ‘get credit’ or have a light shine on herself. She did it to let a light of hope shine on others. We could all benefit in that lesson. I know I did.
These kids won’t have to “worry about the stress” of no time to wrap all the many gifts that collect dust in our homes, or worry about the time it will take to cook a feast that will continue to make us all fatter. They won’t have to worry about how many kinds of drinks will be available – because perhaps they won’t have food, or even safe clean drinking water to drink – let alone any gifts under a tree.
My light still feels dim – because I often feel like time is chasing me down. Have I done all I could do in life? Could I have done more? Be more? Give more? Why do people in the world have to suffer? What can I do to take the focus off of me, and help make the life of someone else better?
Do I let my life consume me with “things” that do not bring joy and happiness? Do I focus more on my “To-Do” list than on my “To-Be” list?
Maybe the key to making that light shine brighter is to not only focus on making a difference in someone’s life – but to realize that the ‘someone’ sometimes has to start with the person inside yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have.
I needed time to replenish. Time to get back to where I could give more of me away. Time to let go of stagnant things holding me back from giving away more of my heart to make room for more joy.
If your light feels dim, remember this – if there is any sparkle left, the light isn’t dead, it can shine brightly again!
Can you put aside some of the stress, the hustle, the bustle?
Express Gratitude and Record Positive Events
What if you took time to really pause and think about your life? Are you who you want to be? Are you doing what you want to do? Are you growing? Are you investing your time with the people that matter most to you?
If not – start today. Let today be the day that your light shines a bit brighter.
What if you paused a bit more, loved a bit more, gave a bit more, rested a bit more, shared a bit more. Shined a bit more.
A few days ago I bought a journal called “On This Christmas”. It has been wonderful.
The book is designed to capture some of the most significant things about the holiday season – and none of it is about tasks, to-do’s, lists, work, stress.
Every page provides an escape into the most favorite things you love about this time of sharing, togetherness, joy, and celebration of something bigger than ourselves.
Breathe. Again. (It is becoming easier!)
Escape and do not be afraid.
Even as I write this my light feels a little bit brighter, my breathing a bit easier.
Sometimes you have to just set aside whatever is holding you back or down. Sometimes you have to walk away from something to walk toward something more important. Sometimes you have to let go of fear, so that you can make room inside for something way more healthy and better. Something bigger. Something more significant. You can’t have it if you don’t escape from where you are.
I am reminded that a very powerful force TWICE said, “Fear not.” And then said “I bring you good tidings of great joy that is for all mankind.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. This is the message to remember. Nothing else matters. This message sometimes gets lost or diluted during this time of year – and yet is the only thing that truly matters.
The first time the angel said this, a poor, single teenager found out she was pregnant. She had plenty to be stressed out about, and to be afraid about. Back then you could be stoned or killed for something like that…
The second time the angel said it, it was in a dark field. The shepherds were busy. They were watching flocks. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they were stressed out. Maybe they weren’t making enough money to make ends meet. Maybe they hated being shepherds. Maybe they were hungry. Maybe they wondered if they were doing and being all they could. They could have heard that message and done nothing. But they didn’t.
The shepherds immediately left the place where they heard this message and went to a place to see what this message about no fear, good news, great joy was all about. It wasn’t about bills, stress, unhappiness, discontent, it was about something life-shifting.
Just keep breathing – it will make the light keep shining.
It’s not easy to make yourself stop what you’re doing – especially when you’re extraordinarily “busy”.
We take for granted that our bodies will breathe “for us”. Right now – stop whatever you are doing! DO it! Consciously even stop reading this and take a deep breath!
There is so much research on this. Breathing has amazing restorative effects.
Mindfulness is not just trendy, it is necessary for us to keep shining, thriving, and for our own good.
Breathing – and focusing on the breathing is so invigorating and helpful. Do this whenever you are faced with something frustrating either at home or at work.
Breathing will help you relax your mind, will calm down your emotions and can help you re-calibrate quickly to focus on what’s truly important.
I have spent more than my out of pocket maximums this year seeing doctors. Guess what they all said? Nothing is wrong with you – except stress. THIS IS something wrong with me – and with many of you reading this.
Stress is known to cause physical and emotional damage. This happens frequently as people are busier than ever.
If you don’t take the time to figure out what is significant and what can wait, you won’t be able to escape from your day in small ways.
SO there you have it – 5 tips to try to keep your lights from burning out.
Are they simple? Yes.
Will it be easy? No.
These tiny shifts can have a big impact on your overall well-being and stress levels, may help you avoid getting sick or burned out, and can help you with however you may even be feeling right now, or may feel when the holiday season is in full swing.
Breathe. Shine bright.
Merry Christmas and may you be the light that can help illuminate more peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.